368 Tasting Notes
I’m cheating, I really have nothing new to say about this tea, but I just received my box from Verdant which includes GOLDEN FLEECE. When I saw the lengthy, lamenting review that all the original leaf was sold out I was kind of crushed and annoyed. Why write such a review for a tea no one can ever have? I know it wasn’t the intent to rub our noses in it, but my ego wanted to take it that way. So, imagine my shock when David did a YouTube tutorial on how to steep this tea! Are they really this cruel I wondered?
So I went and checked the site and lo and behold, they have it in stock! Of course, I immediately ordered some, and now it has arrived.
But I already was steeping my yunnan gold when the box arrived, so a proper tasting will have to wait.
In a recent video with a sheng pu-erh, David of Verdant Teas recommended using less leaf with a sheng than one would use with other teas. This surprised me. Most everyone, especially the hard core yixing people, are all about cramming as much leaf into the pot as they can.
So, I decided to try this leaf again using about half of what I’d been using in the past.
I am now wishing I had my order from Verdant back so I could steep the Farmer’s Coop sheng this way instead of how I did.
Steeped this way, most people wouldn’t find, at least this particular, sheng tea all that unusual. Most of the notes here are similar to lighter black teas, oolongs or Darjeeling type teas. Almost all the wooly, wild, sharp notes I tend to associate with sheng are gone.
After a weekend of excessively rich meals (Teala’s seafood enchiladas, Backstreet Cafe’s lamb chops, Hugo’s Mexican brunch…) with the in-laws I feel in desperate need to get back to basics. This calls for many cups of pu-erh.
As much as I know about, appreciate in, and enjoy partaking of fine foods, I have to say that as I age, I find myself more interested in knowing about them and talking about them and less interested in actually eating them. Indulging leaves me feeling at the same time soft and stiff.
Many cups of shu will get me back to feeling firm and limber in a day or two.
I am steeping this in the gaiwan today, in contrast to the first tasting which was pyrex heresy style. There was some bitter astringency in the 3rd and 4th steeps that may have been strictly a result of my mood infecting the cup. I have so many first world problems right now I feel like a state senator.
But I’m up to something like 7 or 8 steeps now and the cups are soft, almost sweet.
My only complaint is that because there are so many broken leaf bits present, it isn’t at all realistic to get a clean pour without a screen — which seems a bit fussy when using a gaiwan.
It has been too long since I’ve had a fresh off the shipment first flush Darjeeling.
Much. Too. Long.
The dry leaf here smells like fruit and flowers. Like a springtime picnic with fruit salad and warm sun out in the garden.
The wet leaf on the other hand is like a Summertime garden in full riot. Overwhelming aromas of fully ripe fruits and vegetables and the deep greens of the plants themselves competing with ornamental flowers as well as the flowers of fruit not yet formed. You know you are on the brink of a heady cup, here.
The steeped liqueur is the color of light amber, like honey in a sunbeam.
On the tongue the riot is somewhat calmed, but this is still bold stuff. There is a rapid onset of astringency which dries the tongue and mouth and prevents any long lingering unpleasantness — which can be a problem with some sweet teas.
This is what first flush madness is all about. I fully expect this leaf to be completely different after a month in the tin. I fully expect the second flush from the same garden to be completely different. In fact, I need to be sure to order it when it comes out just to compare them.
As Upton teas go, this isn’t a cheap one. But if you have an affinity for “the champagne of teas”, be sure to get in on this year’s first flush. They are fantastic.
(random aside, I’m starting a blog about non-tea related serious things. you can find the URL in my profile if you’re interested in reading it.)